10 Ways How the National Digital Library of India is Set to Change the Face of Education in the Country

“Educate and raise the masses, and thus alone a nation is possible.” – Swami Vivekananda.

As the population of India grows younger (a median age of 32 for a population of over 1.2 billion), there is an urgent need to convert this demographic advantage into an economic opportunity. The vesting of India’s emerging population into a knowledge enabled work force will only be possible with the greater dissemination of education and resources, which in turn cannot be achieved without bridging the digital divide. The National Digital Library of India (NDLI) is a mission project of the NMEICT (National Mission in Education through ICT) developed by Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, to become a key enabler in this effort. By linking all existing and upcoming digital repositories and educational institutions in India, and partnering with libraries and collections across the world, NDL India will be the single window platform for all educational needs.

1.Indian higher education system is the third largest in the world. There are currently over 659 Universities, 33,023 colleges and 11,356 Stand Alone Institutions existing in India. With a million people turning 18 every month, the demand for higher education institutions far outstrips the existing infrastructure. [1]

2.India will need to build 6 universities and 270 colleges every month for the next 20 years [2]. This is in spite of the exponential growth in number of educational institutes in the last few decades. This immense logistical challenge can only be negotiated through greater innovation in development of learning resources and dissemination systems. The National Digital Library of India can provide a disruptive innovation designed to overcome these challenges.

3.The Education System in India has experienced a paradigm shift in the last two decades. The shift in higher education pedagogy now allows the learner more customization and choice, which has helped India’s human resource base to adapt to evolving industry and workplace demands. With the development and implementation of e-learning systems, in conjunction with NDL India’s infrastructure and resource base, this change can be supplemented and made available equitably to learners, irrespective of their enrolments and access to premier institutes.

4.Information and Communications Technology is a powerful tool for e-learning. The NMEICT by MHRD, Govt. of India, is expected to provide major intervention in increasing the GER (Gross Enrollment Ratio) in Higher Education in India. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is used specifically to create conditions for E-learning, which is crucial to enable access, provide equity and assure quality of education. The National Digital Library of India (NDLI) is a key enabler in this movement towards e-learning.

5.The National Digital Library of India is open and inclusive. The goal of NDLI is to create an open source platform, which is inclusive to learners of all kinds including those with special needs, and diverse subjects and curricula, and providing benefits across the board. NDLI partners with over a hundred contributing institutions ranging from schools to colleges, educational boards and universities, research institutes and collections with large available e-content. Contributors to NDLI includes both private and public institutions ranging from Technical and Research Institutes, Education Boards and National laboratories, to global and indigenous digital archives.

6.It is a single window platform. NDLI is set to include content ranging across various media, subjects, learning patterns and learner types. NDL India accesses and collates the Institutional Digital Repositories (IDR) of contributing institutes and other sources, the list of which is continually growing. It has been able to tap into the huge volumes of digital material which includes Thesis and dissertations, Coursework and books, Class Notes and Question, Journals and publications, as well as audio and video content already available in digitized formats. Presently NDL India has over 6 million content across formats and subjects.

7.The idea of Virtual Universities is an imminent reality. With MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) and LMS (Learning Management Systems) infrastructures developing rapidly, the implementation of virtual universities, creating and hosting programs, conferring of degrees, is a step away. NDLI is a virtual repository of knowledge and learning resources and will be able to provide specific and/or targeted content to make design and create such programs and courses.

8.NDLI is designed to integrate with available e-learning environments. NDLI possesses a host of features including Metadata search, Multilingual search and Mobile Platform. It is also currently available as an Android App. An important aspect is the focus on being user-centric – with school and college students and teachers, academics, legal professional community as well as lifelong learners, all deriving advantage from the NDL India platform. It is also designed to identify the unique needs of learners, and also allowing learners with special needs to access content of their choice.

9.NDLI is a Multilingual knowledge base. This is in consonance with the linguistic diversity of the country with content sourced across all the 22 (twenty two) official languages of India included in the collections. The NDL India collection also houses content in languages other than the officially recognized Indian languages, and also provides user interface in three languages currently.

10.The National Digital Library of India has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. The project is sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resources development (MHRD) and is created by the oldest IIT in the country to establish a platform which will successfully bridge the divide between the vision and reality of a truly Digital India.

India is a country with immense potential but limited resources. NDLI’s 24X7 integrated platform accesses can support E-learning and Distance Learning mechanisms across the country. This opens up endless opportunities in tackling literacy and educational access in India today, and for the future. With a vision of developing a knowledge economy, the goal of NDLI is to create an immersive e-learning experience for learners of all kinds. This is a vital step forward in kick-starting the movement towards a revolution that will forever change education in India.

[1], [2] (Source: FICCI & EY: Higher Education in India: Vision 2030)